Erich Kern

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Erich Kern, (born Erich Knud Kernmayr on 27 February 1906 in Graz - died 13 September 1991 in Kammer am Attersee) was an Austrian right-wing extremist journalist. He became noted as a writer of revisionist books that sought to glorify the activities of the German soldiers during the Second World War.[1]

Origins[edit]

In his late teens, Erich Kern became an early member of the Socialists Worker’s Youth organization and the Communist Youth Association, both Trotskyite Groups active in Austria during the late 1920s/early 1930s. Dissatisfied with Communism, Kern began moving in fascist circles, joining the youth organization “Assault Force” in Graz between 1931 and 1932. Due to his illegal Nazi activity in Austria, he was arrested in 1934 and spent a short period of time in jail. In 1936, Kern served as acting chief editor of the Vienna desk of the "Essen National Newspaper" (a German publication) and after the forcible annexation of Austria in 1938, he was appointed as the managing editor of the Viennese newspaper “German Telegraph.” In 1939, he became the regional press chief for the Vienna branch of the Nazi party. In recognition of his talent, in 1940 he was promoted to be the press secretary for the Gauleiter of the Saarland/Lorraine, Josef Buerckel. In 1941, Kern, who already held honorary SS officer's rank, enlisted in the Waffen-SS as a private.

Military service[edit]

During the Second World War, as a member in good standing of both the NSDAP and the SS, Erich Kern was able to use his influence with Gauleiter Josef Buerckel to rotate between his job as a Nazi journalist and field units of the Waffen-SS. By the end of the war he had attained the SS rank of Sturmbannführer (Major) and was one of the founding members of the SS veterans association, the HIAG (Hilfsgemeinschaft auf Gegenseitigkeit der ehemaligen Angehörigen der Waffen-SS"). His service included time as a Rottenfuehrer (Corporal) in the Das Reich (2.SS-Panzer-Division Das Reich) during early 1941, then in Russia during Operation Barbarosa, the Spring, Summer and Fall of 1941 as a member of the 4th Battalion of the 1st SS Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler around the Black Sea, as detailed in his 1948 book Das Grosse Rausch, which was republished in English as Dance of Death in 1951.[2] In the book he bemoaned the failure of Nazi Germany in the Soviet Union, arguing that a German victory would have brought culture to the uncivilized Russian people.[3] After being commissioned as an active-serving officer of the Waffen-SS in early 1942, he commanded a self-propelled antitank gun (panzerjager) platoon for several months while assigned to the 5th SS-Panzerjaeger Abteilung 5 of the 5th SS Panzer Division Wiking during the fall and early winter of 1942 when that division was engaged in the Caucasus. After a spell in Germany where he continued his journalistic pursuits, he again sought field service, being posted briefly to the 15th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (1st Latvian) at the Battle of Narva in the spring of 1944, then very briefly with the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (1st Ukrainian) that summer, then a tour as a member of SS-Infantry Battalion 500 (a probationary unit) during the summer and fall of 1944, which included serving alongside the notorious Otto Skorzeny, who led the Nazi coup in Budapest during October 1944. At the war's end, he was serving on the staff of the IV SS Panzer Corps. Captured in Austria, he spent over a year as a prisoner of war of the Americans and underwent mandatory denazification, though in his case it had little effect. In 1946, he was a founder of the Gemünd Circle, in which former leading personalities of the SS and Nazi Party participated in an attempt to form a postwar political organization.

Another book, Menschen im Netz (1957) formed the basis for the Franz Peter Wirth-directed film Unwilling Agent (1968).[4] He was also press chief of the HIAG and editor of Deutsche Soldaten-Zeitung, their monthly journal.[5]

His publications are shot through with anti-Semitism and racist-nationalist propaganda, and sought to exonerate the Wehrmacht, Waffen SS and Nazi organizations of any wrongdoing. In his view, the Germans are the real victims of the Second World War. Some of his works have appeared in numerous editions and they still form a fixed reference point for right-wing extremists.

Activism[edit]

Kern was a supporter of the pan-European nationalism that became important in post-war far right politics and was a regular contributor to Europe-Action, a journal devoted to this ideal controlled by the Fédération des étudiants nationalistes of Dominique Venner.[6] Active in German politics, he served as a member of the Socialist Reich Party, the National Democratic Party of Germany and the German People's Union.[7]

Publications[edit]

Kern was a prolific author and despite his Nazi pedigree, was able to achieve a certain amount of literary success. His works include:

Der Marsch ins Nichts, Novel. Paul Zsolnay Verlag, Berlin 1938

Der Tag unseres Lebens, Roman eines österreichischen Arbeiters. Paul Zsolnay Verlag, Berlin 1938

Steirische Novellen. Paul Zsolnay Verlag, Berlin 1939

Fahne im Sturm. Erzählungen. Deutscher Verl. für Jugend u. Volk, Wien 1940

Das goldene Tor. Novellen aus Metz. Buchgewerbehaus, Saarbrücken 1941

Der verratene Berg. Steirische Novellen. Wiener Verl., Wien 1943.

Feuer im Westen. Novellen vom Rhein und von der Mosel. Westmark-Verl., Ludwigshafen am Rhein 1943.

Der große Rausch. Rußlandfeldzug 1941-1945. Thomas-Verl, Zürich 1948.

Das andere Lidice. Die Tragödie der Sudetendeutschen. Verl. Welsermühl, Wels 1950.

Insel der Tapferen. Roman. Verl. Welsermühl, Wels 1951.

Buch der Tapferkeit. Druffel-Verlag, Leoni 1953.

Die Uhr blieb stehen. Verlag Welsermühl, Wels 1953.

Der Dorn im Fleische. Roman der Fremdenlegion. Verl. Welsermühl, Wels 1955.

Das goldene Feld. Roman aus der Ukraine. Schild-Verlag, München 1957.

Menschen im Netz. Roman. Verlag Welsermühl, München 1957.

Stadt ohne Gnade. Ein Roman um Berlin. Verlag Welsermühl, München 1959.

Das große Kesseltreiben. Bleibt der deutsche Soldat vogelfrei? 2. Auflage. Plesse-Verlag, Göttingen 1960.

Der Tag des Gerichts. Türmer-Verlag, München 1961.

Von Versailles zu Adolf Hitler. Der schreckliche Friede. K.W.Schütz-Verlag, Göttingen 1961.

Opfergang eines Volkes. Der totale Krieg. 2. Auflage. K.W.Schütz-Verlag, Göttingen 1963.

General Von Pannwitz und seine Kosaken. 3. Auflage. Kurt Vowinckel Verlag, Neckargemünd 1963.

Deutschland im Abgrund. Das falsche Gericht. K.W.Schütz-Verlag, Göttingen 1963.

Verbrechen am deutschen Volk. Dokumente alliierter Grausamkeiten 1939 - 1949. 6. Auflage. K.W.Schütz-Verlag, Göttingen 1964.

Weder Frieden noch Freiheit. Deutsches Schicksal unserer Zeit. K.W.Schütz-Verlag, Göttingen 1965 Der Sieg der Soldaten. K.W.Schütz-Verlag, Göttingen 1969.

Von Versailles nach Nürnberg. Der Opfergang des deutschen Volkes. 3. Auflage. K.W.Schütz-Verlag, Göttingen 1971.

Meineid gegen Deutschland. Eine Dokumentation über den politischen Betrug. 2. Auflage. K.W.Schütz-Verlag, Göttingen 1971.

Adolf Hitler und seine Bewegung. Der Parteiführer. 2. Auflage. K.W.Schütz-Verlag, Preußisch Oldendorf 1970.

Adolf Hitler und der Krieg, Der Feldherr. 3. Auflage. PK.W.Schütz-Verlag, Preußisch Oldendorf 1978, ISBN 3-87725-003-3.

Adolf Hitler und das Dritte Reich. Der Staatsmann. 3. Auflage. K.W.Schütz-Verlag, Preußisch Oldendorf 1983, ISBN 3-87725-002-5.

Willy Brandt - Schein und Wirklichkeit. Eine Dokumentation. National-Verlag, Rosenheim 1973, ISBN 3-920722-18-3.

So wurde Deutschland verraten. Eine Dokumentation über den Verrat im 2. Weltkrieg. 2. Auflage. Deutsche Verlagsgesellschaft, Rosenheim 1974, ISBN 3-920722-06-X.

Verrat an Deutschland, Spione und Saboteure gegen das eigene Vaterland. 4. Auflage. K.W.Schütz-Verlag, Preußisch Oldendorf 1976.

SPD - ohne Maske. Eine politische Dokumentation. 7. Auflage. Deutsche Verlagsgesellschaft, Rosenheim 1976, ISBN 3-920722-01-9.

Die Tragödie der Juden. Schicksal zwischen Propaganda und Wahrheit. K.W.Schütz-Verlag, Preußisch Oldendorf 1979, ISBN 3-87725-093-9.

Alliierte Verbrechen an Deutschen. Die verschwiegenen Opfer. (Mit Karl Balzer) K.W.Schütz-Verlag, Preußisch Oldendorf 1980, ISBN 3-87725-096-3.

Verbrechen am deutschen Volk. Eine Dokumentation alliierter Grausamkeit. 8. Auflage. K.W.Schütz-Verlag, Preußisch Oldendorf 1983. ISBN 3-87725-040-8.

Die letzte Schlacht. Kampf in der Puszta zwischen Budapest und Plattensee Ungarn 1944 - 45. 3. Auflage, K.W.Schütz-Verlag, Preußisch Oldendorf 1985, ISBN 3-87725-016-5.

Generalfeldmarschall Ferdinand Schörner. Ein deutsches Soldatenschicksal. Deutsche Verlags-Gesellschaft, Rosenheim 1994, ISBN 3-920722-15-9.

Verheimlichte Dokumente. Was Deutschen verschwiegen wird. 2. Auflage. FZ-Verlag, München 1999, ISBN 3-924309-08-6.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hermann Kurthen, Werner Bergmann & Rainer Erb, Antisemitism and Xenophobia in Germany after Unification, 1997, p. 176
  2. ^ Charles Messenger, Hitler's Gladiator: The Life and Wars of Panzer Army Commander Sepp Dietrich, 2005, p. 100
  3. ^ Paul Howard Bixler, The Antioch Review Anthology, 1953, p. 450
  4. ^ American Film Institute, The American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures Volume 1 Part 2, 1997, p. 1162
  5. ^ G. Macklin, Very Deeply Dyed in Black, London, 2007, p. 180
  6. ^ James Shields, The Extreme Right in France: From Pétain to Le Pen, 2007, p. 120
  7. ^ Jonathan Petropoulos, The Faustian Bargain: The Art World in Nazi Germany, 2000, p. 152